ABC signed on WENR-TV, Channel 7, in 1948 from Chicago.
When ABC merged with Untied Paramount Theaters in 1953, it ended up with two TV stations – WENR-TV and UPT’s WBKB-TV, Channel 4. The FCC made it give up one station. ABC sold the Channel 4 license to CBS, which formed WBBM-TV. The station later moved to Channel 2.
ABC kept Channel 7 and the WBKB-TV call letters. The station became WLS-TV in 1968.
The following year, WLS-TV’s newscasts began using the “Eyewitness News” format that sister WABC-TV in New York City adopted. Anchors Fahey Flynn and Joel Daly anchored the newscasts into the 1980s. By 1973, Eyewitness News on WLS surpassed WMAQ-TV as the top-rated local news operation in Chicago. WBBM-TV topped WLS in 1979.
Fahey died in 1983. WLS dropped dropped to third place. The station made changes, including hiring Oprah Winfrey to host its low-rated morning talk show, “A.M. Chicago.” On-air staff and format changes helped boost WLS’ local news ratings, as noted in this 1985 ad. Channel 7 reclaimed the No. 1 spot by 1986. It has been the top-rated local TV news operation ever since.
In 1996, WLS dropped the “Eyewitness News” name in favor of “ABC 7 News.” It brought back the “Eyewitness News” name in 2013.
Here is a collection of WLS-TV news opens over the decades:
YouTube also has a complete 1981 newscast:
This 1981 promo features Fahey Flynn and other WLS “Eyewitness News” personalities:
Frank Reynolds (top photo: seated at anchor desk in November 1960) joined WBKB Channel 4 in Chicago in 1949, four years before it became WBBM Channel 2. In 1963 he moved over to the new WBKB (renamed WLS in ‘68), now on Channel 7, and two years later he joined ABC as a network correspondent based out of Washington, D.C.
With Peter Jennings and Max Robinson, Reynolds co-anchored the network's World News Tonight from 1978 until his death in '83, at the age of 59, from viral hepatitis. He had previously anchored ABC Evening News from 1968 to '70, just as Jennings had anchored the program from '65 to '67.
Fall Classes at the Alpena Public Library - WBKB-TV
Fall Classes at the Alpena Public LibraryWBKB-TVThe library hosts these classes ranging in topics from Microsoft Office skills to learning new technology like 3D Printing. Registration is required this year, with a small entry fee per person of $5. Each class, which discusses different topics, is …
The children’s show Garfield Goose and Friends, created and hosted by Frazier Thomas, aired on WGN Channel 9 in Chicago from 1955 to ‘76, but it originated in 1952 on WBKB Channel 4, which (sort of) became WBBM Channel 2 the following year. (The ad for Garfield Goose and Friend Frazier, bottom, comes from the show’s brief time at WBBM.)